What is the Places of Worship Act 1991? What is Places of Worship Act 1991 Supreme court will hear constitutionality of which

by Ana Lopez

India is a country of diversity and controversies and debates regarding religious places abound. The Worship Act was designed to avoid communal strife, but its constitutionality has recently been questioned on grounds of freedom and religious sentiments.

April 5 today on a petition challenging the constitutionality of the Places of Worship Act, 1991 Supreme CourtThe hearing is to be held in On September 9 last year, these related petitions were referred to a three-judge bench. The petition said that the act violates people’s right to worship based on equality, right to life and individual freedom.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court – CJI DY Chandrachud Singh, Justice PS Narasimha and JP Pardiwala will hear all these petitions. The bench will also hear the constitutionality of the act and its relevance in the present context. The entire country is watching the court’s decision. This decision may determine the direction of political and religious disputes in the country.

The court sought a reply from the Centre

In connection with petitions challenging some provisions of the Puja Act, the Supreme Court had sought responses from the Center several times. The court issued a notice on 12 March 2021. After this, the reply was sought again on September 9 last year. But Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked for time. After this, on January 9, the court sought a reply from the Centre. The court then gave the government time till February.

What will be the impact of the hearing on the Worship Act

As the Supreme Court allowed to hear the petitions against the Puja Act, a new debate has started over the disputed religious places in the country. The court’s decision could also have a major impact on the Gnanavapi in Varanasi and Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi disputes in Mathura.

Apart from these two religious places, there are many historical places and buildings, about which controversy has been going on for days. For example, Delhi’s Qutub Minar, Agra’s Taj Mahal are also being disputed. The foundations of these historical buildings were Hindu religious places. The existence of which was demolished in the Mughal period. That is being said.

How many applications have been filed in total?

A total of six petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court regarding certain provisions of the Places of Worship Act, 1991. These include petitions by former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader and Supreme Court lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay and Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh.

The organization of Sunni Muslim Ulema has also reached the Supreme Court in this matter. The organization has said that the version given by the court regarding other religious places during the Ayodhya verdict should not be changed. A change in this will create insecurity among the minorities.

What is the Places of Worship Act 1991?

The Worship Act of 1991 deals with maintaining the status quo of all places of worship prior to 15 August 1947. Be it a mosque or a temple, a church or any other public place of worship. All these places of worship will remain according to the tradition of history. No court or government can change it.

In order to preserve public places of worship, Parliament clearly stated that history and its mistakes cannot be changed in the present and future perspective. Even during the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, five judges of the Supreme Court said this in one voice.

What is written in which section?

It has five clauses. According to Section-2 of the Place of Worship Act dated August 15, 1947, if there is a pending court case regarding the alteration of a place of worship, it will be stayed. According to Section-3 of the Place of Worship Act, no place of worship can be converted into a place of worship of another religion.

According to the Places of Worship Act Section – 4 (1), the places of worship of different religions shall be maintained. Whereas Article – 4 (2) says that it deals with termination of cases relating to such disputes.

Why was the Act of 1991 enacted?

The Act came during the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, when the Ram Temple agitation was at its peak. LK Advani’s Rath Yatra, followed by his arrest in Bihar and the firing of car servants in Uttar Pradesh heightened communal tensions.

Meanwhile, while introducing the bill in Parliament, the then Home Minister SB Chavan had said that the measures needed to be implemented in view of the periodic controversies over conversion of religious places that would spoil the communal atmosphere. But at that time the main opposition party BJP strongly opposed this bill.

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